Contact me at kylerk@gmail.com or @kylerwk
tumblr with recent work at kv2k

I create art that comes to life.
I'm an animator.

I've been animating for almost eleven years. I studied film animation at Concordia University where I completed my most ambitious project to date, The Summit , which you can learn about in the film section.

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If you'd like to learn more about me read on.

I was born and raised in Calgary Alberta. I grew up wanting to be a physicist, and only in the final months of high school made a decision to venture into the arts. I went to the Alberta College of Art and Design where I gobbled up new and wonderful experiences.

I learned the true breadth and depth of the art world, and I discovered I had the ability to contribute to it. I had a distinctive perspective stemming from an interest in science, math and computers.

I transferred to Concordia University's Film Animation Program. It's a program that focuses on creating well versed animation directors. I thrived. We experimented with a wide variety of methods and learned about animation from its earliest incarnations. I worked as a TA and started to learn how to teach and lead groups.

In 2011, upon graduating, I won the Norman McLaren Award for Film Animation and the Concordia Alumni Association Fine Arts Purchase Prize.

I live and work in Montréal.

Here are a few of the projects I've made





The Summit

Synopsis:

High on a mountain, a rope ties together a climber and a mountaineer. They climb or fall as one. This bond is worn and strained as they ascend the treacherous peak.








The story for this film came to me when I was reading a book called The Freedom of the Hills. It is a textbook for mountaineers, laying out the foundations of mountaineering.

"If a rope mate slips off one side of the ridge, the best tactic may actually be to jump off the opposite side, with the rope running over the ridge and thus saving both climbers."

After reading this line it was many months before the story was fleshed out. I wrote the script and drew storyboards. Here are a small selection of the boards.

Summit Storyboard Summit Storyboard Summit Storyboard Summit Storyboard Summit Storyboard Summit Storyboard Summit Storyboard Summit Storyboard

I found that I came up with many of the designs during the storyboarding. This was likely the most creative process since the drawings are so quick to make and iterate upon.

Characters

Almost all of the the 3d models were created using a method where traditional watercolour paintings are scanned and folded into 3d models that populate the scenes. These watercolours give the film a rich texture that would difficult achieve in any other way.

jackets

Cliff

The characters were rigged with controls and facial expressions.

face2 face1 face3

The atmosphere and effects of the mountain had to be carefully tuned to evoke the landscape of high mountains.

Snowynight

Morning

It was a concerted 8 month effort to create this film. There are thousands of details and problems that had to be worked through to bring it to completion. If you have any questions or comments regarding this film, please don't hesitate to ask.



This was a film I completed during my second year at Concordia for an assignment to make a self-portrait animation. It is animated by hand with pencil and paper, and composited very simply with Adobe Premiere. I also composed the soundtrack.

And yes, growing up I did spend hours and hours building card houses.



The Crescendo Step was my first-year film that I made at Concordia University. It was made in a very tradional manner, on an Oxberry camera standing using 16mm film. It was a film inspired by all the stairs that I discovered when I first moved to Montreal.



The Cart Matador was a film that I made in my second year at Concordia in the Stop-Motion Animation class. The creation of the character is outlined in this blog post.



This short public safety ad was made for MTQ while working with Louis-Martin Duval at Hektor.co. It was created mostly with Cinema 4d and the Particular plugin for After Effects.

Being able to create art, in any form, always precedes the process of animation.

The first advice I ever received when I started animating was to learn to draw. That message is always at the back of my mind.

Elk Lake Atlas Chasm Fall Weighted Man Bulk Women One Mountaineer Clothed Man Body Anatomy Life Drawing Sad Father Self Portrait Botanical Drawing Mount Field Bird Sketch Fea Market Concept Art Two Flea Market Concept Art Womane Two Helvetica Architecture Gamer Mom Face Anatomy Jutta Sika Teapot Women Four Women Three Women Five Man Women Six Women Ten Women Eleven Man One Women Women Seven Women Nine

Technique is what seperates art from animation.

A big part of animation is figuring out the methods that consistently make the individual images that will play as one smooth animation.

This might mean using a lightbox with pencil and paper, building 3d models of sets, or creating a ball and socket armature for a stop motion puppet.

Here are some of the techniques that I know. Some I have applied directly to animation, others I suspect might be useful in future projects.

Physical Sprite Sheet

Watercolour painting is a beautiful image making technique. It's a spontaneous process that creates rich, textured images. Animating with watercolours however, is a difficult process that consumes time and materials.

Here I will present my work-flow based off of the video game idea of a "sprite sheet".

The first step is to create the pencil sketch version of the animation.

The frames of the animation are then layed out as a sprite sheet, meaning to cram as many as will reasonably fit onto a single page.

Car Matador

This "Sprite Sheet" is printed directly onto watercolor paper.

Physical Sprite Sheet

The printed pages are painted with watercolours and scanned back into the computer.

Physical Sprite Sheet

By using a series of After Effects expressions, the scanned images can be realigned and cropped back into animation.

Physical Sprite Sheet

This method produces a beatiful handcrafted texture, while still allowing for precise hand drawn animation techniques.

Physical Sprite Sheet

It opens up the possibility of coloring or painting the physical sprite sheets with any physical medium.

Physical Sprite Sheet

The physical art creation process requires no technical computer skills or animation skills, opening up the possibility of collaboration with any artists in nearly any medium.

Physical Sprite Sheet

The animation that this process creates can be seen in the whaling animation of my demoreel.

Physical Sprite Sheet

Stop Motion Armature

When making stop motion animation, an armature is key to creating animatable characters. Basic armatures are simply twisted wire but over time the wires will wear out and break. Building a ball and socket armature requires more time to create, but makes the animation process considerably more effective.

The joints won't break, and all of the joints can be tightened and loosened as necessary to allow for precise posing.

Car Matador Car Matador Car Matador Car Matador

The biggest lesson I learned making this armature was the fact that you can't be afraid of breaking your work. I had test the joints, but I didn't do it strenuously enough, and so I had to fix them later when they actually broke.

Rigging in 3d

Just as real world armatures are necessary, virtual characters need rigs as well. They have many similar requirements: a wide range of movement, robust construction and ease of control.

Summit Rigs Summit Rigs Summit Rigs Summit Rigs

In most cases, it is the quality of the animation rig that will determine the quality of the animation, not the quality of the model. For one film project, I began by creating the animation rig for the birds in the film. I found that once they moved convincingly, all I needed to add were simple feathers to evoke the image a bird.

Programming and Scripting

There is always a degree of repetition to 3D animation. But sometimes steps need to be repeated an impossible number of times.

I recently began work on a project in which I will need to build animatable tank treads. This is one such case where there are simply too many pieces to be rigged by hand. I decided to write a Mel script which allows the whole job to be completed in only one click.

tread tread

Here is a look at the script that makes it happen.

//This tread script will only work with one curve and one mesh object. 
//It is set up for a 100 parameterized curve
//The curve should be pointed towards Z and have it's axis frozen.

{

string $objectList[];
string $object;

string $curve;
string $tread;

$objectList=`ls -dag -sl` ;

// First we figure out which were the first tread and Curve that were selectedNodes
// They are the only two objects that we are going to care about.
print( "meshs \n");
for( $object in $objectList)
{
    if( `nodeType $object` == "mesh")
       {
           print($object +"\n");
           if( $tread=="")
               { $tread = $object;}
           
       } 
    
}

print( "nurbsCurves \n");
for( $object in $objectList)
{
    if( `nodeType $object` == "nurbsCurve")
       {
           print($object+"\n");
            if( $curve=="")
               { $curve = $object;}
           
       } 
    
}
   
print( "curve: "+ $curve +"\n tread: "+ $tread); 

//Now we find the transform fo the curve and give it 3 new attributes to control the tread
string $curveTransform[]=`listTransforms $curve`;
addAttr -longName treadmover 
        -shortName tm 
        -attributeType "float"  
        $curveTransform[0];
        
setAttr -keyable true ($curveTransform[0]+".treadmover") 1.0;    

string $curveTransform[]=`listTransforms $curve`;
addAttr -longName treadlength
        -shortName tl 
        -attributeType "float"  
        $curveTransform[0];
        
setAttr -keyable true ($curveTransform[0]+".treadlength") 99; 

string $curveTransform[]=`listTransforms $curve`;
addAttr -longName treadspace
        -shortName ts 
        -attributeType "float"  
        $curveTransform[0];
        
setAttr -keyable true ($curveTransform[0]+".treadspace") 2.5; 


//We make a group to put the tread instance to keep everything clean
group -n ($curveTransform[0]+"treadgroup") -em;

//This is where we build the expression that will control the treads
string $expression;

//change this for loop to change the number of treads you want
for($i=0; $i<40;$i++)

{
 
//We start making the new treads and put them into the group and remove their ability to inherite transforms
instance -n ($curveTransform[0]+"tread"+$i) $tread; 

parent  ($curveTransform[0]+"tread"+$i)
        ($curveTransform[0]+"treadgroup");
        
setAttr ($curveTransform[0]+"tread"+$i+".inheritsTransform") 0;

//we attach them to the path, beging very careful to make sure the upAxis works how it is supposed to

pathAnimation -su 0 
              -eu 10
              -stu 0 
              -f 1
              -wut 2 
              -wu  1.0 0 0
              -fa z 
              -ua x 
              -worldUpObject $curveTransform[0]
              -n ($curveTransform[0]+"treadpath"+$i)
              -c $curve ($curveTransform[0]+"tread"+$i);
 
 
// Now we just have to write our expressions, which is nice and confusing but works well.           
string $noAnim=  ($curveTransform[0]+"treadpath"+$i+".uValue") ;
//print ($noAnim); 
          
string $noAnim2[]=  `listConnections $noAnim` ; 
string $noAnim3=($noAnim2[0] +".output");

//print("isthat right");
//print ($noAnim2[0] +".output");

disconnectAttr $noAnim3 $noAnim ;
delete $noAnim2;

 $expression+= $curveTransform[0]+"treadpath"+$i+".uValue = ("+$curveTransform[0]+".treadmover +
  "+$i+"*"+$curveTransform[0]+".treadspace "+")%(1+"+$curveTransform[0]+".treadlength);\n" ;

print( $expression);

}

//Finally we make the new expression.
expression  -s $expression ;

}

		

Technical hurdles are often the greatest challenge in completing an animated film. Although often stressful, I find that solving a hard problem is one of the most rewarding parts of animation.